Vodafone CEO unsure about Telefónica's personal data bank plans

Vodafone, Telefonica, data

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has expressed scepticism about Telefónica's proposed personal data bank, arguing his company is already doing right by its consumers on privacy.

As European Communications revealed last week, Telefónica plans to create a personal data bank for each of its 350 million customers to store, manage and sell their own data.

Chief Data Officer Chema Alonso said a traffic-light tool would expose how third party internet applications and services propose to use an individual’s data, while customers will be able to choose to cash-in personal data by selling it to third parties, and take it with them should they choose to switch providers.

The Spain-based operator’s plans remain a work in progress, with the company expected to officially launch the offering at next year’s Mobile World Congress event.

But its assertion that it expects other operators to follow its lead appears hopeful at this early stage.

“I’m not 100 percent sure I understand what it is and how it is different to what we do with our customers,” Colao said at Vodafone’s latest financial results briefing on Tuesday.

“I think there is an attempt [from Telefónica] to say ‘with us you are safer’.

“All of the online players are getting more and more aware of the importance of protecting the data of their customers and I think we are doing the right things – we are not giving [data] away without consent.”

Telefónica says it wants to be more transparent about the data its customers transmit across its network.

The new initiative is intended to give customers sight and control of the data they share with internet applications, and to help educate them on its value.

The Spanish firm has not claimed, specifically, that its customers' data is “safer”.

But noting that “many services” need personal information to work, Colao said: “I don’t get the concept, I just don’t get it.”

The CEO also used the event to reveal that Vodafone intends to launch a consumer IoT product next year.

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